PUBLIC relations officer of the NGO TTV Solidarity Network Heidi Diquez has expressed hope that the “tyranny” of Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro would be gone before the end of the year.
She was speaking yesterday after receiving an award at the US Embassy’s International Women of Courage Award Ceremony at the Chief of Mission Residence, Port of Spain.
She said TTV Solidarity Network was born almost by force, owing to the unprecedented influx of Venezuelans coming into TT since 2015. “The situation (escalated) in 2017 with (Venezuelans) seeking refugee and protection, but today there is little recognition of their basic human rights needs by the Government of TT,” she said. She said the management of TTV is made up of Venezuelan women who moved to TT, and most were victims of political persecution both in this country and in Venezuela, including the denial of the right to work under the Hugo Chavez regime.
“They have never stopped raising public awareness and crying out for help to assist millions of Venezuelans in need for humanitarian aid and respect for their humanitarian universal rights. Not one has turned a blind eye to the suffering of our people in Venezuela and now in Trinidad.”
She said TTV responds to those who are the most vulnerable, including children who have no access to education and women at the risk of labour and sexual exploitation. She pointed out there have been students in TT for two to four years without any recognised education, but TTV has been able to raise funds to register 17 students and additional funding to register 100 students to receive a high school education. The organisation also provides food, clothing and sometimes money to those with the most critical needs.
“Next year is right around the corner,” she said, “and we can only wish and anticipate that there will be an end to the tyranny of Nicolas Maduro’s regime and his undemocratic ruling of Venezuela before the end of the year.”
She said there was a lot of uncertainty over how and when Venezuela will recover from its “social and economic débâcle” and return to stability. At the ceremony yesterday US Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Marie Royce said Diquez came to TT from Venezuela more than 15 years ago.
“She sought the economic opportunities and the fundamental freedoms that were disappearing from her home country. Since then, she has raised a family, made a successful career in the energy industry, and become a proud citizen of TT. But she also watched the situation in Venezuela get worse each year.”
Diquez’s work, she said, “has been met with insults, lawsuits and even threats from Venezuelan authorities. She is far from alone in this regard, but it is for this reason we are honouring her as a US Embassy Port of Spain Woman of Courage. Heidi, the US stands with you and your fellow Venezuelans in supporting a democratic government and the end of the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela.”